By Josh Redfern, LCSW // Utah Director of Social Work
The fall/winter holidays can be a wonderful time. They can also come with some stress and reminders of difficulties. The traditions of focusing on family during these times can be great as we spend time with those we love. They can also, though, remind us of what we don’t have or what we have lost. It’s important to remember that in regards to adoption, too.
Perhaps all of those Christmas cards that go out talking about everyone’s families reminds a hopeful adoptive family of what they don’t yet have, or birth parents of what they have essentially lost. Maybe the holidays are always difficult for you, and waiting for placement or having placed just adds to the difficulty of the season.
Some thoughts on what to do if this is the case for you, or the case for someone you care about:
Don’t ignore it.
Allow yourself some time and space to grieve. Sometimes concentrated grieving (eg, giving yourself a specific time and place) can enable you to focus on other things later.
Reach out to those you think may be struggling in this way.
Just let them know you understand that this time may be difficult. Some people don’t like being treated differently or as a “charity case,” but some acknowledgement and outpouring of love is acceptable to most people. You can’t FIX it all of the time, but we, as humans, often feel a little better when people see and accept how we feel.
Share the holiday with those you think may be struggling. Send your child’s birth family a gift, give them a call, Skype, etc. Let your child’s adoptive parents know that you love them. Exchange gifts with your birth children. Invite that hopeful adoptive parent over for hot chocolate.
These are just some general ideas. There’s tons more out there, but I think I most wanted to just acknowledge that things can be hard in the adoption triad around the holidays. If we remember that, we can be less harsh on ourselves and we can support each other.